To swear in vain  

My father used to look as if he wanted to cut something with his eyes. I would watch him shave: the white foam like dog’s drool giving way to the razor’s passage. Once he cut himself listening to a joke on the radio; that bloodied laugh, and afterwards the stained towel on the washbasin. His eyes concealed their intentions in the mirror’s crevices. Rimbaud’s boat submerged in his white ocular body. He swore never to bequeath me anything: none of his goods and chattels, none of his drunkard’s caresses, not even alopecia, not even his bizarre dipsomania. However, I now see his face when I shave myself. It is appeased, distant, with that lecher’s smile hidden between the cracks of a broken mirror.

 

 

Translation of Richard Gwyn


Back